Thursday, September 8, 2016

Republican Party of Virginia Voted for Primaries

The view represents the majority opinion of the News Leader, part of USA Today Network newspaper's Editorial Board, Roger Watson, President and Publisher; David Fritz, Executive Editor; and Deona Landes Houff, Community Conversations Editor.

The Republican Party of Virginia voted for a Primary instead of a Convention to choose 2017 nominees for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. The Primary option won by only a single vote.

A Primary is better then an Conventions, as the largest possible number of voters should make the nomination decision. Conventions pander to the Party activists and ideological purists, rather than average citizens who want a Government that works. Conventions exclude military serving overseas, voters too ill to leave home and others who care but don’t want to give up an entire weekend to pick a candidate.

Republicans, who have not won a statewide election since 2009, especially need wider participation in the nominating process. Recent Convention nominees have included such right-wing non-winners as Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson. Republican Bill Bolling could easily have been Governor, rather than Democrat Terry McAuliffe. But a Convention selected Cuccinelli, one of the few Republicans McAuliffe could defeat.

They also favor Virginia’s Open Primaries, whereby voters do not have to register to vote by Political Party. Here in the heavily Republican Shenandoah Valley, the Primaries for Local and Regional offices often function as the General Election, making openness to all voters all the more important.

If political parties were willing to pay for Primaries, closing them would be more acceptable. The Parties, though, are unwilling to pony up. Localities and the State pay, making Primary Elections Government functions that should be open to all, even if the all give us such nominees as Trump. Primaries are expensive, yes, but there is an easy path to reducing their costs. Virginia should change its laws requiring every Precinct be open for low-turnout elections.

In years past, the State Senate has supported a pilot program, whereby Augusta’s 26 Precincts could be five “vote centers,” placed at or near the County high schools. Staunton and Waynesboro could get by with one center each. Unfortunately, this reasonable idea has never made it out of a House of Delegates Subcommittee.

Just as the State GOP saw the light about Primaries, it’s time for the Republican-controlled House of Delegates to do the same about Vote Centers and save Localities some much-needed funds.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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